2014 Korean Cultural Festival in Brisbane

October 4, 2014

By complete chance, Mike and I passed through King George Square before heading to the cinemas to watch Guardians of the Galaxy. As a result, we stumbled upon the 2014 Korean Cultural Festival while it was in full swing.

Numerous stalls lined the square, many offering different Korean street foods, which pulled us in immediately.

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We started off with two kinds of vegetarian dumplings ($5) – yum!

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The stall we found most enticing, Korean hot dogs! For $2 each, we had delicious battered and deep fried hot dogs with a sprinkle of sugar and tomato sauce…

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Yum!

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Delicious Soboru Pan ($2, Korean peanut butter crumbled bread) – which was moist and delicious! Reminded me of a pineapple bun with a more decadent topping.

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I’m not a fan of red bean, but Mike loved this donut with red bean filling ($2)!

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We were also invited inside the City Hall’s main auditorium for a variety of performances including traditional music and dance. Unfortunately, we had a movie to catch!

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What an unexpected and pleasant surprise! 🙂

Melbourne: Lunch at Shanghai Street

Saturday, March 1, 2014

After a morning of walking around, we were definitely in the mood for a delicious lunch. And we already knew what we wanted – dumplings. It’s Melbourne right? There’s got to be amazing Asian cuisine around. The only problem was, where can we get great dumplings.

With an 89% rating on Urbanspoon, our decision was easy. A short walk soon found us joining the queue outside of Shanghai Street. Simple rules in the world of food: If you want good food, go where the queues are.

(Took this photo after lunch, no longer a line up outside)

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A bustling little shop with small tables and limited seating area. Staff handed us menus while we waited in line and took our orders when we were ready. Luckily, we were near the beginning of the queue and turnover was quick.

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We were soon settled into a small table for 2 and awaited our food. The worst thing about going to a dumpling restaurant with only 2 people? You only have enough belly room to try a limited number of items… unless you want to take away lots of leftovers.

Xiao long bao (pork soup dumplings) was our first dish to come out. Piping hot and filled with delicious broth. Even with utmost gentleness we had a few dumpling leaks, a shame! Although the dumpling skins were nice and thin, I wish they were a slightly more sturdier.

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Our second dish (and last) dish was fried pork buns. These had a much thicker, chewier skin but were also filled with soup. Take care with these ones! Bite the top off and suck the soup off rather than munching it directly or you’ll end up squirting hot soup in someone’s eye! 😉

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We did want to try the egg custard buns but unfortunately they were unavailable.

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The fried pork buns seemed quite popular as many people around us were enjoying them as well. While we were eating, a couple waiting to be seated even approached us to say those looked really appetizing and asked what the name of the dish was so they could order it too.

Both types of dumplings were generous in size, hot and flavoursome with good texture. Although quite busy and you may have to queue, the line moves quickly and the food is definitely worth the wait. Did I mention everything is also very reasonably priced? Less than $20 for our dishes that left us stuffed! The staff was consistently pleasant and we certainly left pleased and looking forward to a future visit. Our only regret was not being to try more dishes!

Shanghai Street Dumpling on Urbanspoon

Trip Report – Business Class: YOW-LHR-PEK-SIN-BNE

(Note: I think this is going to be a long post, but I hope you enjoy!)

Hello friends!

On January 7th, Michael and I began our journey from Ottawa back to Brisbane… in style 😉

With 90 000 Aeroplan points and the most lovely agent on the phone, we were able to book our entire flight back in Business Class, going the long way. Of course, we had to pay taxes, which came to approximately $600.

Here was our flight itinerary:

itinerary

And so begins my amateur trip report! It certainly was an enjoyable first experience, definitely wanted to document and share!

January 7, 2014

Flight AC888 YOW-LHR (Boeing 767-300)
Departing Ottawa at 9:45pm
Arriving in London Heathrow at 9:35am Jan 08
Flight time: Approx 5hrs 40mins

Seats 2C and 2F

We said farewell to our family around 8pm at the airport and headed in through security. One of the best things about flying executive quickly became clear. Priority lines. For everything. Makes life so much easier.

Once through security, we headed to the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. A worn but roomy lounge with ample seating space. A conservative but good selection of drinks. There were also snacks, including some hot foods, I believe. We didn’t take a closer look, mainly due to being stuffed from dinner.

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The lounge was quite deserted and quiet, but good environment to get some work done. Also a nice view of planes landing and departing for those who are interested. Bathrooms were spacious with large, private stalls and anything you might need (feminine hygiene products, body lotion, etc).

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Boarded without any issues and I got to experience the Classic Pod for the first time. Not to mention they recline completely flat! Although slightly sad that configuration was 1-1-1 because it meant I couldn’t talk to Michael at all while seated.

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We left around an hour late due to bad weather outside Ottawa causing half the crew needing to come in via taxi from Montreal.

Hot towel, champagne and nuts right after take off as opposed to before due to lack of staff – no problem!

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Every year, Michael and I exchange cards on our flight back to Brisbane. Continuing with that tradition and reading my card after take off.

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Happy in his seat under mood lighting.

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Dinner was quite tasty, I was impressed.

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Appetizer: Nova Scotia lobster, seared scallop and marinated shrimp served with quinoa salad and caper tartar sauce.

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Salad: Mixed greens, grape tomatoes and Parmesan served with balsamic vinaigrette. Also had warm crusty bread.

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There were a choice of 4 mains, I chose the Ricotta and spinach ravioli offered with rose sauce, basil chiffonade, portobello mushrooms and parmesan. The ravioli was delicious but I simply couldn’t finish it all.

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Mike chose the Sauteed Atlantic salmon accompanied by lemon and scallion sauce, a grain medley of wheat berries, long grain rice and acini di pepe pasta, french beans and baby carrots. Slightly dry salmon but good flavours and definitely good quality for airplane food. No photo, sorry!

For dessert, a chocolate pecan brownie with whipped cream. Certainly not close to being one of the best brownies I’ve ever had but still good, nice and warm too. I passed on the cream.

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A decent wine selection but no Canadian choices, which I thought was a shame!

One of my favourite aspects of these flights – amenity kits. This one was compact and included the usual items (eye mask, toothbrush, tooth paste, ear plugs, socks) as well as some beauty products by Vancouver company Escents.

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In terms of service, nothing was lacking. However, both Michael and I felt pleasantries were forced rather than genuine coming from one particular flight attendant. Going up to every single passenger with a list in your hand, mumbling or butchering names while saying the exact same greeting to each person comes across as robotic. When we greet people and are unsure of how to pronounce their name, the easiest and most polite thing to do is to simply ask, “Excuse me, how do I correctly pronounce your name?” Such a simple thing to do and you look a lot less ignorant.

I had ambitious plans to stay awake and get a lot of studying done for my MCCEE. Yea, that didn’t happen. I slept most of the flight, eventually waking up to have breakfast before landing.

Continental breakfast consisted of fresh orange juice, sliced seasonal fruit, yogurt and croissants (and blueberry muffins I didn’t see) with butter and preserves.

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And soon we touched down in London! We made a quick stop in the AC Arrival Lounge to freshen up before heading into the city. Paid a small fee to store our carry on luggage at the airport and headed into the city via the Heathrow Express Train (£34/person return).

On the train for just a short 15 minute ride into the city!

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Arrived at Paddington station!

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Being on the streets of London for the first time!

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Due to our short layover (approx 8 hours total), we decided to go on a tour with The Original London Sightseeing Tour. The bus tour was great, we didn’t hop on and off like we would’ve it we had more time but got to see most of what it had to offer. It eventually got pretty cold being on the top of the double decker bus and not moving around at all! 😛

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Here’s a short video I put together of the sights we saw! London is beautiful, we’d love to come back and visit again when we have time… and money!

We eventually made our way back to Heathrow Airport. I didn’t take any photos of the Star Alliance lounge but it was packed, even for 2 levels. Apparently many flights going into North America were delayed due to bad weather which explained why the lounge was so busy. Had a nice shower to recharge for the next leg of our journey and enjoyed some snacks and drinks as well. 

Sooner than we wanted, we were zipping through lines in order to board our next flight with Air China to Beijing.

January 8, 2014

Flight CA938 LHR-PEK (Boeing 777-200)
Departing London at 5:40pm
Arriving in Beijing at 11:25am Jan 9
Flight time: 9hrs 15mins

Seats 16A and 16C

Warm greetings from all the staff, a near empty cabin and seats actually beside each other, we immediately knew we were going to enjoy this flight.

Within minutes of being seated, we were given our noise-cancelling headphones, amenity kit, slippers and menu. 

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Amenity kit with L’Occitane de Provence products, lovely!

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And of course, champagne for take off 🙂

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Good bye London!

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I didn’t take any photos of the cabin, but here are some from other (as linked) sources

Wine and more champagne

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Air China was serving their Winter menus. 

For dinner, Michael chose to have the Western option, which consisted of the following:

Amuse Bouche: Asparagus wrapped in parma ham, Scallop with keta caviar and radish and Hot Canape: Chicken kebab with chili sauce, Veg brochette

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Assorted bread roll served with butter

Appetizer: Seared scallops with noodles

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Salad: Fresh seasonal salad mix with Italian dressing or basil vinaigrette

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Main courses: Beef fillet served with Frisse risotto & vegetables OR Blue cheese gnocchi spinach & pine nut kernels

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Dessert: Apple crumble tart OR Bread & butter pudding OR selection of cheese with crackers

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Seasonal fresh fruit

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Overall, Michael enjoyed all components of his meal and found everything quite tasty! And of course, very filling 🙂

For myself, the Chinese option which consisted of the same amuse bouche, hot canape, breads and dessert options, with the following differences:

Appetizer: Poached chicken thigh with sesame soy dressing, mushroom shitake with julienne carrot, and mixed peppers with black bean sauce

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Main courses: Monkfish with hot bean sauce served with peppers, asparagus and carrots OR Chicken Yu Hsiang Aubergine served with brocoli (both options include steamed rice).

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I chose the Chinese option because I thought of all airlines, Air China would have Chinese food down pat. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The food was alright but mostly bland. Comparing our meals, the Western option is certainly more elegant with much better and sophisticated ingredients.

Like the previous flight, these seats also laid completely flat, it was wonderful! Again, I didn’t get much studying but a lot of sleeping done. 😛

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The flight certainly didn’t go by quickly, but was very comfortable and enjoyable. Service was impeccable and the bathrooms were spacious and well maintained. Air China has a small but decent drinks list, although we didn’t take advantage of it.

Lovely views passing by Mongolia!

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Breakfast!

As I had already chosen the Chinese breakfast option, I was anticipating disappointment after the first meal, haha!

My meal consisted of:

Plain rice congee with pickles, pickled spicy radish julienne, and mushroom wood fungus julienne. I’m normally a huge fan of pickles and especially fungus but again, not very flavourful.

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Dim sum with shrimp dumpling, sieu mai, char sieu bun, and chive & prawn dumpling. The dim sum was tasty, thank goodness!

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Mike had his Western breakfast of Scrambled eggs with bacon sausage & grilled tomato. Also danish, croissant, pain au choc & breakfast rolls with butter, marmalade, honey, cornflakes & milk, and fresh fruit. Of course he enjoyed his meal immensely!

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Again, comparing our meals, the Western option is much more substantial with more flavours.

Soon landing in Beijing!

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Check out the crazy smog pollution… the closer we got to the city…

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I was last in Beijing in 2007, around a year before the Beijing Olympics. I remember the airport service being horrendous with poor service and extreme lacking in English speaking staff for international flights.

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The airport is still not completely efficient as they had only 1 kiosk open to proceed to international transfers. As a result, a haphazard, huge snaking line coiled around a tiny space that blocked way for further incoming passengers. Should’ve taken photos!

Once through security, we proceeded to International Air China Business Lounge (serving all Star Alliance members) located on the 2nd floor.

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The lounge itself is quite spacious with plenty of seating area, and multiple stations to get snacks (packaged pastries and sandwiches) and non-alcoholic drinks.

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There is also a separate hot food station. However, like the airline food, I don’t quite understand how the quality of Asian styled food is so low. It might taste alright if you are extremely hungry, however, we certainly didn’t go for seconds.

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And unless we were mistaken and couldn’t locate other bathrooms, there are only 3-4 bathroom stalls in the entirety of the lounge, not enough!

The bar

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Otherwise a relaxing layover!

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View from the lounge

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Heading to our boarding gate!

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January 9, 2014

Flight CA969 PEK-SIN (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Beijing at 3:25pm
Arriving in Singapore at 9:45pm Jan 9
Flight time: Approx 6 hrs

Seats 13D and 13H

Again, service was lovely as we boarded and settled into our seats. Although the seats were not as nice or private, we did find the cabin more spacious and open. We also liked the insect-antennae lamps.

The seats beside us.

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Unfortunately, the cabin was quite full, with many Chinese passengers who find hoarking (Is this a real word? To bring up sputum and snot by snorting and hoarking) and spitting completely socially acceptable, as well as talking at full volume. Oh well, such is life!

No amenity kit either… 😦 But champagne for take off!

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Meals! We switched things up this flight. Mike decided to opt for the Chinese dinner option, consisting of:

Appetizer: Five spice smoked pomfret and Chinese salad: Marinated bran with vegetables and peanut

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Main courses: Gong Bao prawn OR braised chicken and chestnut with yellow wine sauce, both served with steamed pearl rice and seasonal vegetables, OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

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Michael found the meal, “meh.” The main course was alright but he didn’t touch the pomfret and most of the salad.

Learning from my previous mistake, I chose the Western option this time, which should have included:

  • Amuse bouche: Tea smoked duck breast
  • Hot canape: prawn skewer with Thai chili sauce
  • Appetizer: Baltic style smoked salmon with black pepper
  • Salad: Fresh seasonal salad leaf with French dressing or Chinese vinaigrette.
  • Assorted bread roll served with butter
  • Main courses: Baked Tandoori fish served with raisin turmeric rice and curried vegetable OR stir-fried assorted mushrooms with spring onion accompanied with jasmine rice and seasonal vegetables.

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Unfortunately, bad luck struck again! Although I received my main course, apparently, they had made a mistake and were completely out of the other Western dishes. I said not a problem and accepted the Chinese side dishes… which weren’t very good and like Michael’s, remained mostly untouched. The Tandoori fish was very spicy and salty, I couldn’t finish it although the rice was extremely flavourful! Curried vegetables were mushy snow peas though 😦

Dessert: Hazelnut cake OR orange flavour chocolate cake OR selection of cheese with crackers AND seasonal fresh fruits.

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Cakes were alright but not tasty enough to finish all of it!

This flight went by quickly and we soon found ourselves landing in Singapore!

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After transferring terminals and doing some duty free shopping (have to restock our bar ;)). For spending over $100 on duty free liquor, we got a free Spongebob SquarePants plush toy! I chose to take Patrick, complete with a deep innie belly button home.

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After shopping, we headed to the SilverKris Business Lounge.

Very spacious with ample seating room, this lounge reminded us of a gentlemen’s club with dark colours and leather seats. Lots of drink options and an extensive hot foods area although we didn’t check out the food. I was able to squeeze in a shower in their lovely bathrooms (that you don’t have to go to reception to get a key) which was refreshing and great.

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Michael enjoyed a frosty mug of Tiger beer, of course

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We had a very brief 3 hour layover and soon found ourselves heading to our boarding gate for our last leg home.

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January 10, 2014

Flight SQ255 SIN-BNE (Airbus A330-300)
Departing Singapore at 12:45am
Arriving in Brisbane at 10:45am Jan 10
Flight time: Approx 7hrs 20mins

Seats 12H and 12K

Perhaps our most anticipated leg of the journey due to it being Singapore Airlines, the aircraft was probably one of their oldest and most outdated. The seats looked and felt tired, disappointment!

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The service, however, was great as always on an SQ flight. Again, no amenity kit (why? :() but we did get funky slippers!

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As always, champagne for take off!

We opted for 2 meals during this flight. Both dinner and breakfast. With many naps lying nearly flat in between… 😛

For dinner, we had warm focaccia with smoked chicken, cheddar cheese and sweet onion relish. Delicious!

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Highland Park 12 Year-Old Single Malt Whisky for Mike and a Skyhigh (“An invigorating recipe featuring vodka, Cointreau, lemon, topped with 7-Up). I quite enjoyed all the unique Singapore Airlines’ cocktails on this flight.

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And egg noodles with braised beef brisket, mushrooms, and leafy greens. Also delicious!

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Before landing, we both enjoyed an American Breakfast with fruit yoghurt, poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, bacon, ham, mushroom and roast potatoes. As well as breads with preserves. For airplane food, it was impressive and mighty tasty!

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Once landed in Brisbane, we proceeded through immigration and customs without any issues or delays. Once outside, there was no taxi queue, allowing us to immediately get into a taxi and be home within 1/2 hour.

Although we enjoyed most aspects of our flights immensely, it was a relief to finally be home!

Summary:

Best service: Tie between Air China and Singapore Airlines
Best food: Air China (LHR-PEK) for Michael, Air Canada (YOW-LHR) for me
Best drinks selection: Singapore Airlines (SIN-BNE)
Most comfortable: Air China (LHR-PEK)
Best entertainment: Air Canada (YOW-LHR)
Best lounge: Changi Airport’s SilverKris

Would we do it again? Yes! But only on points… 😉

And thank you to James and Kim for being so lovely! Not only did they keep an eye on our place for us, they made sure we had some fresh bread and milk in the fridge for when we got back! You guys are the best!

Post-Medicine rotation gathering!

November 15, 2013

(I know, I’m now writing out of order too, sorry! :P)

In celebration of our time together throughout our Medicine rotation AND the fact that we finished our last exams of third year – we had to celebrate… with food, of course!

Very happy that most of us were able to meet for dinner Friday evening, hurray!

After some discussion, we decided on New Shanghai as they have many yummy and generous sized dishes to share. In particular, dumplings. Need I say more?

Credit to Sarah for the photos!

The ones who couldn’t make it: Clarence, Yung Howe, Tomas, Joseph, Mustak, Manisha, and Sunny

Adi, Kee Ping, Sarah & Daniel

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Me, Mike, Xuan & Christine

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Sarah & Daniel

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Mike & Xuan

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Daniel & I

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Love this picture 🙂

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For dessert, it didn’t take much convincing for everyone to join for some frozen yoghurt, yum!

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Thanks for the good times guys, have a great holiday!

Lunch @ Dumpling Up

August 26, 2013

Got off early from the hospital, woo hoo!

Hungry and in time for lunch, how lucky 😛

Dumpling Up not only has a restaurant but a little kiosk next door where they sell dumplings and steam buns to go. After enjoying their buns-to-go a number of times, we decided to check out their restaurant for lunch.

A friendly staff member stood at the door introducing the lunch specials (on display in the window) to interested patrons.

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We were interested and promptly shown inside. Two words: lovely decor! Unfortunately, the restaurant was almost empty. A shame considering this restaurant opened only a few weeks ago at that time.

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They had appealing $10 lunch sets (rice with a main, 3 dumplings and green tea) but we decided on the a-la-carte menu instead in order to try more items.

All dishes were only $2.90 – amazing! We chose a variety of dishes…

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Started off with BBQ pork steam buns (2 per plate) – tasty as usual!

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Silly face!

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Deep fried pork and shrimp dumplings (3 per plate) – fillings tasted very similarly, decent but not a stand out.

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Edamame – overcooked with too much oil and salt.

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We also tried a few sushi options, all of which came with 3 pieces per plate.

Salmon roll (salmon, avocado & cucumber)

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Dragon roll (salmon, prawn & pickle)

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Spider roll (fried soft shell crab, pickle & cucumber)

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It’s a good thing we didn’t order too many because the sushi was not very good. Rice was overcooked, as you can probably see in the pictures. And the ingredients (tempura prawn and soft shell crab) were cold and not freshly made.

The price was great but the food did not match in quality. It was disappointing to see a large beautiful restaurant, with plenty of seating space, so empty in the middle of lunch time. And such a small menu that didn’t live up to expectations.

Service, however, was great and hopefully they will soon work out the kinks with the food – when you offer a limited menu, it should dazzle! Or maybe it was just a fluke in the kitchen the day we visited 😀 It is a lovely restaurant (with a bar and even private rooms) with good prices and we will be back in the near future to check it out again!

Dumpling Up on Urbanspoon

50% off Korean BBQ dinner @ Hong Depot

An opportunity through Dimmi for 50% off food (not including drinks or desserts) at Hong Depot, a Korean BBQ restaurant in West End. With an 82% rating on Urbanspoon and being somewhere we’ve never tried before – how could we resist?

Xuan, Mike and I had reservations for 5:30pm but showed up a bit early due to the timing of buses. No problems though! We were invited to our table and ordered drinks to start while waiting for the kitchen to open. The boys enjoyed Heineken beer while I got a glass of Black Raspberry Wine – sweet but so tasty!

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The restaurant is quirky but homey, does that make sense?

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Check out the plastic gloves filled with water, hanging all over the restaurant. Nope… still haven’t been able to figure it out 😛

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We were soon ready to place our order and eagerly awaiting our food.

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As with many Korean restaurants, there are always free unlimited refills of side dishes. The ones offered at Hong Depot were sliced fish cake, kim chi, and seaweed salad. All were very good! Never had seaweed salad as a slaw before but the crunchy texture really makes it!

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The dishes soon started flowing out at a very good pace. First dish, Rice Balls ($7 for 4 pcs – mixed with rice, yellow radish, seaweed, sesame and mayo) – very good! I especially liked the added texture of the red rice.

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Mandu ($9 for 8 pcs)! Korean dumplings with vegetable filling.

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Large Kimchi Pancake ($16). Crispy, filled with nice and spicy kimchi.

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When we finished our tapas, the staff set up fiery coals to barbecue our meats…

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Rice with dipping sauces

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We got 4 servings of meat, each 200g: Beef Galbi ($21 – marinated short beef rib), Spicy Beef Bulgogi ($18.80 – marinated thin slices of prime beef), Spicy Pork Bulgogi ($19.50 – marinated thin slices of prime pork) and Jumuluck ($21 – marinated boneless short beef rib). All of the meats were tender and well marinated.

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Loved being able to BBQ the meat to our liking and thank goodness for the table suction fan. Otherwise, we’d be reeking of BBQ on the way home!

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And even though we were getting full, ice cream was just too tempting. Xuan and Mike each got a scoop of Green Tea and I got Black Sesame ($6 each) – creamy and delicious! A very generous portion as well, no complaints!

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With the 50% discount, our bill for 3 people came to approximately $105 – great value! The dinner was great and everything was delicious 🙂 The staff were also extremely friendly and accommodating, despite the restaurant being very busy later in the evening. We left extremely satisfied but would be hesitant to return soon because at regular price, the food is quite pricey for the portion size. Would definitely recommend trying at least once though!

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Hong Depot on Urbanspoon

Just a bit of food

I haven’t done a food update since… May probably?

Not much to share since then, but here are a few dishes!

Vietnamese ground pork, ready to go into the oven! Nom nom nom. Final product was served at our post-surgery potluck.

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Chewy nutella peanut butter cookies

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We first had laksa last month in Singapore and it was quickly one of our favourite dishes. Trying my hand at homemade laksa and it was quite tasty!

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Chicken panfried dumplings. I love dumplings and these tasted great but they just take so long to make and get eaten so quickly! Haha!

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Made some perfect carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing to raise money for the RSPCA!

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I made cheesecake for the first time! The lazy way… with a chocolate oreo cookie as a base rather than a crumbed one. Baked cheesecake with a hint of peanut butter and nutella 🙂 Got the stamp of approval from Yoni and Mike!

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Day 05: Bangkok – Starting our last day at the Grand Palace

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Our last day in Bangkok! How quick time flies!

We had to check out of Abloom before heading out today but that left a dilemma. We had Magnum ice cream bars (which we “only” bought at 7-11 for around $1 as opposed to $4-5 in Australia) which needed to be eaten… and it was only 8am.

Problem easily solved! As you can see, happily and satisfyingly solved too. Chocolate brownie! I’ve never even seen that flavour in Brisbane.

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We then headed out to Sathorn Pier to make our way to the Grand Palace, home of the famous Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

In a previous post, I said you should take the Express Boat over the Tourist Boat because of cost – but when the next express boat isn’t coming for another 20 minutes… the difference in cost becomes negligible, especially on your last day 😛

We were soon our way! Relaxing on the boat and enjoying the scenery as a guide provided commentary on every interesting sight we passed.

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Almost there, just passing Wat Arun!

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To get to Grand Palace, you could get off at the same pier (Tha Tien) as Wat Pho, but it is a longer walk. I suggest getting off at the next pier – Tha Chang instead.

We both found the admission fee of 500 baht a little expensive, especially compared to the costs of visiting other temples.

Don’t forget to wear appropriate/respectable attire! Closed shoes (or sandals with socks) long pants/skirts and no bare shoulders. If needed, there is a place for you to rent clothing by the entrance gate.

It was a beautiful (read: scorching hot) day with slight breezes and a clear blue sky. And it was a VERY busy day. People everywhere! Tour buses carrying hoards of Asians, all the females armed with umbrellas – I wish I could snap every single one of those umbrellas so they wouldn’t be poking innocent people in the face, or worse, in the eye!

The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The present monarch currently resides at Chitralada Palace with the Grand Palace still used for official events.

It is divided into 4 main courts: The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Outer Court, the Middle Court, and the Inner Court.

First up, was the Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) court. This was the central ubosoth that houses the statue of the Emerald Buddha. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside the temple so we’ll have to be satisfied with this instead!

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Surrounding buildings

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Phra Si Rattana Chedi, the main stupa. Covered in beautiful golden mosaic tiles imported from Italy, the stupa was a beautiful contrast against the blue skies.

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Beside the stupa was Phra Mondop, Repository of the Royal Golden Addition of the Buddhist Cannon. “The four pairs of demons that stand guard on top of the stairways, a pair at each entrance, are the work of the King Rama I period and regarded as the most perfectly proportioned of all existing classical sculptures of Rattanakosin craftsmanship.” Although we couldn’t enter, the the floor of the Phra Mondop is apparently lined by a woven mat made from strips of pure silver.

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One of the 2 Phra Chedi Thong, the Twin Golden Stupas. The stupas were built by King Rama I, one dedicated to his father and the other to his mother. They are made of brick and covered in copper foil and gilt.Each of the stupas are supported by a row of twenty demons and monkeys whose distinctive features, colours and crowns mark them as individual characters from the Ramakian, the Thai version of the Ramayana epic. The fact that they all wear crowns indicate that they are demons and monkeys of noble rank.”

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I loved the monkeys and demons…. 🙂

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“Yaksa Tavarnbal (Gate-keeping Giants): Six pairs of mythical ogres stand at each gate of the Balcony. These are the main Giants of the Ramayana.”

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Prasat Phra Thep Bidon, the Royal Pantheon contains life size statues of King Rama I to VIII and is only open to the public on April 6th each year (anniversary of the founding of the Chakri Dynasty), so they can pay homage to their past sovereigns.

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We left the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and walked through the Middle Court.

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Have you noticed by now how amazing our selfies have become? We don’t even need someone to help with photographs anymore!

Here’s one of us with the Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat in the background.

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And one last shot in the Grand Palace: Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat.

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We had been walking in the sun for too long. Time to recharge… with food of course!

Sticky rice topped with coconut milk and crunchy deep fried mung bean served with a sweet ripe mango! We both love sticky rice and mango – the combination was fantastic!

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We also got some glutinous dumplings with a sweet peanut filling – very tasty!

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Lots of food being sold in the market by the river.

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We decided at this point to catch a boat across the river (again, only 3 baht) to visit the Forensic Medicine Museum at Siriraj Hospital. What can I say, we’re medical students. But, surprised we were to find out that the entrance fee had jumped from 40 baht a few months ago to 200 baht. Thought that was a little ridiculous and decided that as attractive as the air conditioning and gory specimens may be, our last few hours in Bangkok would be better spent seeing more of the actual city.

So off we went!

And soon we were on a boat heading back into the city…

FULL ALBUM (so far) HERE!

New Shanghai – A return visit

Mike had been craving Xiao Long Bao (steamed dumplings filled with soup) for ages. Naturally, we were both excited to hear about the opening of New Shanghai and were eager to try it.

When it first opened, Mike and i stopped by two evenings but quickly left because of the huge line at the door. Last month, we decided on a whim to have lunch there, ran into a friend and took him along as well. Luckily there was no line up and the food was tasty with good service. Decided we would definitely return.

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Recent dumpling cravings got the best of us which marked our second visit last Wednesday. Fortunately, the line wasn’t too long. We wrote down a table for 2, grabbed a number and waited to be called. Mike and I grabbed seats in front of the display window and passed the time watching workers make different kinds of dumplings.

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Our number was soon called and we were seated in the middle of a bench between 2 other groups, which was fine with us.

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Staring at the menu 😛

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A little wasteful, but I do like how the menus double as place mats. They soak up all the soya sauce we drip, haha!

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We weren’t checked on after being seated but had no trouble hailing the server a few times to place our order, get some water, and getting little bowls for our sauces. They have soya sauce and vinegar at the table, but we both really wished they had some chili as well!

The food came out quickly and staggered, which was appreciated as there wasn’t much room at our seats.

New Shanghai Pan Fried Pork Buns (8pcs). Soft fluffy pastry with a crisp golden bottom. Inside, a nicely flavoured pork filling and a burst of hot soup – delicious!

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Pan Fried Pork Dumplings (8pcs). These ones are similar to the Xiao Long Bao as they have the same pork and soup filling but I like them better because of the thicker skin and crispy pan fried goodness!

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Lastly, we had Shepherd’s Purse & Pork Wonton Tossed with Sesame Butter, Red Chilli Oil & Spice (10 pcs). Wontons were nicely cooked and we loved the flavour combination sesame butter and red chili – will definitely be trying this at home! I also had no idea what Shepherd’s purse (green-spinach-looking component of the wonton filling) is but now I know it’s a plant also called Capsella bursa-pastoris.

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Food was great and we even ended up taking home leftovers. Prices are very good for the quality and number of dumplings you receive. We stuck to the dim sum menu but maybe next time we’ll try some of the mains. Need to come with a handful of friends though, that way we can try more things!

Also, I loved the decor, especially the mirrors on the walls, the stone floors and the wooden window and door designs.

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Restaurant was still bustling when we left, with an even longer line of people outside waiting to be seated.

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New Shanghai on Urbanspoon

Harajuku Gyoza – A long time coming

Michael is a huge fan of dumplings – so am I.

We’ve also passed by Harajuku Gyoza many many times – each time itching to go in but holding off. We finally went on April 04 during Meaghan’s visit.

Super friendly service with shouts of ‘Irasshaimase!’ (welcome) as soon as you walk in the door. Great decor as well, I really liked the plates and the lights.

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The menu is simple but offered a variety of dumplings averaging $8 for 5 pieces.

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We ended up ordering edamame (boiled young soybeans), chicken karaage (marinated and lightly battered fried chicken) and 5 gyoza (dumpling) dishes, all grilled with pork, duck, chicken, vegetable, and Moreton Bay bug filling.

Food verdict? VERY AVERAGE, nothing special.

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Edamame was great, although it’s hard to get that wrong.

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The chicken karaage had too much batter and skin for my tastes – I’ve had much better.

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The dumplings were not very flavourful. If I didn’t know what we had ordered, it would’ve been hard to tell the difference between the pork, duck and chicken gyozas. The vegetable dumpling had interesting (edamame in the filling) texture, although not great flavour. This was also my first time tasting Moreton Bay bugs – it was tasty but I wouldn’t be able to say if it was cooked well or not 🙂 I also wish the gyoza wrappers were more chewy and crispy.

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Even though the food was a little lacking, it was clear everyone (including us) were enjoying themselves. The restaurant was soon filled to capacity and buzzing with conversation. Every time a sake shot was served (from a huge bottle), the staff would yell out leaving customers laughing and a little self conscious 😛

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For dessert, we shared an apple gyoza with icecream and a peanut butter & white chocolate gyoza with icecream. Each came with 3 pieces of deep fried dumplings and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delicious. You simply cannot go wrong with those flavour combinations… deep fried. I was so excited to eat it, I forgot to take pictures 😦

A really enjoyable evening but we probably won’t come back unless it’s with a large group of friends for the atmosphere. We will try out other gyoza restaurants before coming back to Harajuku solely for the dumplings.

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Harajuku Gyoza on Urbanspoon

FADU: South Bank and Yumminess!

July 8, 2012

Woke up to the wonderful smell of pan fried dumplings – thank you mommy for your jet lag and waking up at 4am to make us food!

Family breakfast complete with pyjamas and bed hair

We headed down to the CBD (downtown) for a stroll and to visit souvenir shops. A bed of furries – woo hoo!

My mom really liked the trees on Adelaide St

Trying not to laugh wearing a hat from the souvenir shop. Then getting a work out pushing big metallic spheres around.

We then walked over the bridge to visit South Bank

Exact tool my brother needs to work on his bike at home is available at the Community Bike Repair Station. He wishes there was one in our neighbourhood back home! And mom holding up the Wheel of Brisbane

Mom and sister being silly and posing

The man made beach in South Bank

Can’t visit South Bank with a stop at Max Brenner! Yum yum yum

Could not pass up the photo opportunity with Pedobear! Haha

Sun going down… time to go home and eat leftovers for dinner!